Rex Grossman had a solid game against the Giants, but his career-long inconsistency remains a concern. Photo by Keith Allison at Wikimedia Commons.
Brian Burke, who runs Advanced NFL Stats, is back at the Washington Post this season to analyze Skins games using the...umm...advanced stats he generates for his site. The stats are not the standard stuff available in box scores -- Burke has analyzed the NFL to determine what matters when it comes to winning and losing.
Rex Grossman had a solid game against a depleted defense. What does it mean? Not much -- Grossman has had better games earlier in his career, but then went on to have truly awful games. Writes Burke, "On the brighter side, Grossman was tenth in the league in Week 1 with a very solid 6.8 Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (AYPA) — yards per attempt adjusted for interceptions and sacks. (The league average is around 5.0 AYPA). The season is far too young for any conclusions, but pay attention to this stat in coming weeks, as it’s the single best predictor of team success."
Sunday's margin of victory was deceptively large. Burke points out that the Skins benefited from fluky plays like Ryan Kerrigan's deflection-interception-touchdown and a blocked field goal.
The offensive line's performance is cause for concern. According to Burke, 14 of the team's 26 non-penalized runs were for 2 yards or fewer. The team's run "Success Rate" (the proportion of plays that increase the likelihood of making a first down or scoring) was just under 30% -- which ranks 27th in the league. Only Atlanta, Kansas City, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa Bay were worse Sunday. Burke's numbers show that breakaway runs are less important to winning than the ability to consistently get 5 or 6 yards.
The Redskins were smart to go for it on 4th and 5 from the Giants' 37. In fact, Burke's numbers suggest that from the opponent 37, teams are better off going for it on 4th on to-go distances up to 11 yards.